School of Public Policy & Administration breakfast focuses on public service transformation

Attendees sitting at round tables

This year’s Ontario Public Service (OPS) Breakfast, hosted by York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration earlier this month in downtown Toronto, focused on the Ford government’s recent large-scale reorganization of the OPS and the challenges and opportunities it presented.

The early morning breakfast event typically draws a large gathering of students and alumni who are eager to kick-start the academic year with stimulating discussion about a current public policy or administration issue. This year’s topic: the new Ontario government that has captured news headlines with its major changes in mandates, priorities and organization.

SPPA OPS breakfast
Undergraduate students from the School of Public Policy & Administration with Deputy Minister Janet Menard (second from left)

Janet Menard, deputy minister of children, community and social services, and deputy minister responsible for women’s issues, accepted the school’s invitation to serve as the keynote speaker at the event. She provided an insider’s perspective on how the public service manages such transformations.

Menard has previously served as deputy minister of community and social services and deputy minister responsible for poverty reduction. She has more than 30 years of experience in the field of human services in the Peel and Halton regions and in the city of Toronto.

SPPA OPS breakfast
Attendees at the 2019 Ontario Public Service Breakfast hosted by the School of Public Policy & Administration

Through the lens of experience and leadership, Menard highlighted the responsibilities of the non-partisan public service to fulfil the mandate of any elected government; to provide advice on options and feasibility; to build trust between the government, public service employees and the public at large; and to apply the principles of accountability and efficiency. She also emphasized the importance of communication and consultation in this work. Her key, and inspiring, message to students and those already working in the public service was that it is the times of turbulence and major challenges that produce good public servants rather than periods of calm and stability.

The Oct. 1 event concluded with a lively Q-and-A session moderated by Professor Dagmar Soennecken, graduate program director of York’s Master of Public Policy, Administration & Law program, followed by networking.